TORTS: NEGLIGENCE: SLIP AND FALL: INSURANCE: MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE: NONJOINDER STATUTE; APPEALS: CERTIORARI: APPELLATE COURT QUASHES ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SEVER ACTION FOR PERSONAL INJURIES FROM ACTION FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT AGAINST TORTFEASOR’S LIABILITY CARRIER FOR FAILING TO EXTEND MEDPAY COVERAGE TO PLAINTIFF BECAUSE COMBINING THE TWO ACTION VIOLATED THE SPIRIT OF THE NONJOINDER STATUTE BY ALLOWING THE JURY TO DISCOVER THAT THE TORTFEASOR WAS INSURED

Starr Indemnity & Liability Company v. Morris, ___ So. 3d ___, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D147 (Fla. 3d DCA January 7, 2015)

After the plaintiff slipped and fell on a sport fishing boat, she sued the owner and the captain of the vessel for negligence, and she sued the owner’s liability insurer for breach of contract based upon the failure to pay the plaintiff under the medical payment coverage of the policy. The trial court denied the insurance company’s motion to dismiss or sever the breach of contract claim, but the appellate court granted the insurance company’s petition for certiorari. The motion to dismiss was not well taken, but the motion to sever should have been granted. Although the nonjoinder statute, Section 627.4136, Florida Statutes, did not technically apply because the plaintiff was suing for first party benefits as an insured under the policy, combining the plaintiff’s claims for her personal injuries with her claim for breach of contract violated the spirit of the nonjoinder statute by allowing the jury to discover that the tortfeasors were insured.

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